California bill expands leave to care for designated person

If Gov. Gavin Newsom signs it, HR leaders may have to make policy changes

California bill expands leave to care for designated person

California workers are waiting for the governor’s signature as a bill, amending the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), was recently passed in the California Legislation in the hopes of reflecting the situation of a current family set-up. 

Reports have said that the bill that would ensure up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a designated person with a severe illness has already been sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom, and he has until September 30 to either sign or veto it. 

What is the bill about?

According to the California Legislative Information, when the CFRA bill is amended, it “would expand the class of people for whom an employee may take leave to care for to include a designated person.”

It further said that the bill states that a “designated person” could be “any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” Additionally, employers could restrict employees to only one designated person per 12-month period. 

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Legal experts believe the recent bill will likely resolve the growing concerns over the limited statutory focus on “nuclear family relationships and ignoring contemporary family set-ups.”

Earliest CFRA

In 1993, the government initially passed the CFRA and had since undergone various expansions, including the coverage of private employers with five or more employees. 

The bill applies to employees who have 12 months, or more than, service with the employers and has, at the very least, 1,250 hours of work service with the employer during the 12 months before the leave starts. 

Moreover, the bill ensures a job-protected leave which means that after the break concludes, the employer must reinstate the employee to the same position held before the leave or a job with similar duties and pay and can be performed at the same or similar geographical location before the employee’s leave. 

The CFRA, according to the government, guarantees unpaid leave for reasons such as:

  • Birth of a child of the employee or the placement of a child with an employee in connection with the adoption or foster care of the child by the employee.
  • Care for a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, domestic partner, or designated person with a severe health condition.
  • Employee’s own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of that employee, except for leave taken for disability on account of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions
  • Qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States, as specified in Section 3302.2 of the Unemployment Insurance Code.

The bill also guarantees employees’ right to take family leave, noting that it would be unlawful for any employer to dismiss, penalize, suspend, discriminate, or retaliate against someone who took a family leave. 

Read more: What does workers’ compensation cover in California?

In line with these policies, employers can mandate employees to show a certification from a health care provider proving the serious health illnesses of the individual needing care, according to reports.

Moreover, employers must continue employees’ health insurance during their leave period but are not mandated to make any pension or retirement plan payments for workers while on leave.

Accordingly, experts remind companies to utilize standard documents for leave requests to aid employers in keeping tabs on leave and guarantee that they comply with the law. 

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